A view of the famous bridge across the Batoka Gorge with the spray of Victoria Falls at sunrise.

Self-drive from Namibia to Vic Falls

April 4, 2024

It is more than possible to self-drive from Namibia to Victoria Falls, in fact it's a wonderful way to combine two or even three countries (including Botswana into the mix) into one seamless trip, but there's more to it than that.

Namibia and its surrounding countries offer some of the best self-drive holidays in Africa. With good planning and preparation you will have an amazing African adventure with incredible scenery and a great variety of attractions and activities. Many of our clients enquire about combining Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls in a self-drive tour. Here is our advice on the best options.

Option 1: Self-drive Namibia to Vic Falls via the Caprivi and Chobe National Park

Includes: Namibia, Chobe National Park & Vic Falls (self-drive and road transfers)

This route starts Windhoek and includes the highlights of Namibia: Sossusvlei, the Skeleton Coast, desert-adapted wildlife in Damaraland and incredible wildlife viewing in Etosha. From Etosha you head further north-east along the Caprivi Strip to explore the wetlands and more wildlife. The Caprivi area is vastly different from the rest of the country and a birder’s paradise. You could drop the vehicle in Namibia (Katima Mulilo) and transfer across the border into Botswana for Chobe National Park and then continue by road transfer to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe or Zambia to end. Or continue by self-drive into Botswana, dropping the vehicle at your lodge in Chobe and just do the last stretch to Vic Falls by road transfer.

Things to note:

  • Dropping the vehicle in Katima Mulilo is cheaper than dropping the vehicle in Chobe, but keep in mind that you will pay for the road transfer from Katima to Chobe should you opt for this.
  • Taking a road transfer across the Botswana border, means your driver will assist you with the border crossing and you won’t have to pay any cross border fees for the vehicle itself.
  • We have a set drop-off point in Katima, which is both easy to find and safe. You’ll complete the vehicle handover at an allotted time and your road transfer is done from this same point where you will meet the driver.  
  • It is not advised to take the vehicle across the border into Zimbabwe or Zambia for Vic Falls due to the more complicated border crossing process and the high cross-border costs for a vehicle into these countries. The drop-off fee is also much more expensive and having a vehicle is not necessary to explore the wonder of the falls.

Tour suggestion: 16 Day Nam, Chobe & Vic Falls Safari

Option 2: Self-drive Namibia to Vic Falls including West Caprivi to Maun

Including: Namibia, Maun, Okavango Delta, Chobe & Vic Falls (self-drive, internal flights and road transfers)

This route starts in Namibia and as above can include as many of the highlights in Namibia as you to wish to see and include. Usually however the route would take you to explore the desert and coast in the south before heading north via Damaraland to Etosha National Park. From here you would continue north and east as with the route above, however you would only head as far as West Caprivi near Divundu before heading southeast via Shakawe to Maun. Drop the vehicle off in Maun and continue into the Okavango Delta by light aircraft transfers. Fly from the Okavango Delta to Chobe National Park and then road transfer to Victoria Falls (Zim or Zam) to end.

Things to note:

  • The drive from west Caprivi to Maun is a longer day on the road and would require a night in Maun before flying into the Okavango Delta the next morning.  
  • You can drop off the vehicle at your accommodation in Maun and take a transfer with the lodge to the airport or drop the vehicle at the Maun Airport the morning of your onward flight.
  • The flights into and out of the Okavango Delta are set scheduled flight transfers in a light aircraft (bush plane). The cost of these flights and including the Okavango Delta does significantly increase the cost of this option over option 1 above.
  • You would fly from your lodge in the Okavango Delta to Kasane Airport and then transfer by road to your lodge for Chobe National Park.
  • To end you would transfer from Chobe to Vic Falls by road, ending in either Zambia flying out from Livingstone Airport or from Zimbabwe flying out from Victoria Falls Airport.

Tour suggestion: 16 Day Nam, Delta, Chobe & Vic Falls Safari

Option 3: Self-drive Namibia only adding Vic Falls as an extension

Including: Namibia & Vic Falls as an extension with an option to also include Botswana (Self-drive and International Flights)

This route starts and ends in Windhoek only self-driving the Namibia section of this trip. Whilst not exactly a self-drive option between Namibia and Vic Falls, it’s important to look at this as a route option as it eliminates the vehicle drop-off fees.

Things to note:

  • Starting and ending your self-drive in the same country and at the same location means you won’t have drop off charges for the vehicle.
  • You would likely need to include a night in Windhoek to end to accommodate the possible flight times flying from Windhoek International Airport to Victoria Falls.
  • Your travel dates may be determined by the international flight availability as the flight from Windhoek to Victoria Falls does not operate daily but on specified days of the week.
  • It is also an option to fly by regional flight from Windhoek to Katima (in the Caprivi) and do an extension to Vic Falls from here by road transfers including Chobe National Park.
  • While this option may appear cheaper for the Namibia section as it excludes the drop off charges for the vehicle, you need to keep in mind the cost of the international flights to be included.

Tour suggestions: 11 Day Namibia Highlights Safari (Namibia) - then add on 5 Day Vic Falls & Chobe Safari (Vic Falls & Chobe) or 7 Day Three Rivers Safari (Vic Falls, Chobe and Okavango Delta)

Drop-off Charges

To give you an idea, the drop off fee for the vehicle can range from ZAR 19,000 to ZAR 22,000 in 2024 depending on the type of car and car hire company. Most visitors opt to collect or drop their vehicle in Kasane (near Chobe), as the border crossing permit cost into Zimbabwe is quite high and getting the vehicle across the border here can be more complicated. A transfer is then arranged from Kasane to Victoria Falls. This can be done in either direction and also to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe or Livingstone in Zambia. The other option is to drop the vehicle in Namibia at Katima Mulilo and take a road transfer from there into Botswana.

You can also collect your vehicle in Windhoek and drop it off in Maun but you will still incur delivery or drop off charges (approx. ZAR 19,000) – so depending on your budget, if you can afford the flight to Maun then a good option is to tour Namibia as a self-drive, and fly to Maun doing the rest of your trip with flights and transfers.

Is it possible to self-drive from Namibia to Victoria Falls? inline image 5bf3bfc170857

Driving in Botswana

Doing a self-drive in Botswana is not as easy as in Namibia as the roads are not in great condition and not well sign posted. You are able to camp in Botswana, but the sites are limited and have to be booked well in advance, up to 9 to 12 months at least. The best way to see the swampy Okavango Delta is to fly-in (see option 2 or 3 above). There are also some park restrictions in Chobe which you need to know about if you are driving:

  • Traffic is being controlled, so that only a certain number of vehicles are allowed to enter per day.
  • You are only able to drive in one direction.
  • You can only stop for 10 minutes at each site.
  • Entry to the park has to be booked in advance.
  • Self-drivers may only enter the park later and must be out of the park earlier than the lodges.

As you can see, there are a number of options available to you, and with the right information and planning, you will be able to enjoy a magnificent and smooth trip between these beautiful countries.

The above could seem confusing if you're not familiar with a map of how it all comes together, not to worry though, that's where we come in. We know what works best. What would be possible given your travel duration and also where you can save on costs and unnecessary hassles. Contact us to put it together for you and give you the best advice.

Is it possible to self-drive from Namibia to Victoria Falls? inline image 5bf3bf11dc89d

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